Pakistan’s Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a Christian woman facing execution for blasphemy in a landmark case that has attracted global attention and incited deadly violence at home.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on October 31 overturned the conviction by the Lahore High Court that had sentenced Asia Bibi, a mother of four, to death in 2010 for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad — a charge Bibi has denied.
The court ordered that Bibi be freed. She is being held at an undisclosed location for security reasons.
Her conviction and death sentence had outraged Christians worldwide. Pope Benedict XVI called for her release in 2010, while in 2015 her daughter met his successor and the current head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
But the landmark ruling is expected to anger Islamists in Pakistan who have threatened to launch nationwide protests if the court freed her.
A hard-line Islamist party, Tehrik-e Labaik, which has demanded Bibi’s execution, called for for the death of Nisar Court and two other judges who overturned the death sentence.
It also called for the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
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